Staying After Class: Memory and Materiality beyond Heaven’s Gate

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Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions


In March 1997, Marshall Herff Applewhite (Do) and thirtyeight of his students made headlines when they exited their human bodies in a home in Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County, California. While the class (as they called their group) is gone, the legacy of Heaven’s Gate remains on the Heaven’s Gate website preserved by Mark and Sarah King. These two former members shared their experiences in the class at the New Religious Movements Group Methods Meeting on 21 November 2014 in San Diego at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting. Their presentation and participation in a question-and-answer session provided insight into the complex, ambiguous legacy of Heaven’s Gate: a group that strove for existence beyond the materiality of human bodies now survives on Earth in material form, disseminated by human persons dedicated to preserving the teachings of Do, and his mentor Ti (Bonnie Lu Nettles) in a dynamic, ephemeral space—the internet.


© 2017 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page, http://www.ucpress.edu/journals.php?p=reprints. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2017.20.4.80.